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Packing Guidance for Senegal

This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.

As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.

In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.

This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!

This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.

Senegal is located in Sahelian West Africa. There are two distinct seasons, the rainy season (May to November) during which it is very hot across the country and very humid in areas closer to the coastline. And a cooler dry season (December to April) during which there are significant harmattan winds and most areas across the country experience dust storms. Temperatures in Senegal range from evening lows of 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year to daytime highs of 80-100+ degrees Fahrenheit. Senegal’s proximity close to the equator also means that the intensity of the sun is especially noticeable.

Peace Corps/Senegal provides the following items:

  • Medical kit: See more about the items in the med kit
  • Water filter
  • Mosquito net
  • Malaria prophylaxis
  • Smoke detector for your permanent housing
  • Basic smart phone
  • Menstrual hygiene items/or an allowance for local purchase
  • Optional: Bike and bike helmet
  • Optional: For Volunteers who need a computer a simple laptop/tablet will be provided from local vendors as part of the settling-in allowance at the end of the initial 3-month training.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
  • Drones
  • Automobiles or motorcycles
  • Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
  • Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms

Drugs

Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.

During training and service, you will be expected to dress in culturally appropriate, clean, and professional clothing. Pants, shirts, blouses, and skirts/dresses that fall below the knee are suitable. Shorts (baggy and knee length) are appropriate for recreational activities only. Clothing that is not recommended nor appropriate includes: short shorts, short skirts, tops with spaghetti straps, tight fitting clothing, skin-revealing clothing, or clothes with holes.

These recommendations for dress are consistent with Peace Corps policies that have been established to ensure the safety, well-being, and integration of Volunteers. In Senegal, many Volunteers prefer to buy fabric in the local markets and to have clothing made locally. Dress is an important part of Senegalese culture and Volunteers will wear local clothes during important festivals and celebrations.

Work clothing

All Trainees/Volunteers are expected to dress in culturally appropriate, clean, and professional clothing. In Senegal, the following items are generally appreciated to begin training and service with:

  • Loose cotton tops—some sleeveless and some with sleeves to protect bare shoulders from sunburn and mosquitos
  • Light jackets/sweatshirts/sweaters
  • Skirts or dresses, below knee length
  • Lightweight trousers (cotton or cotton blend)
  • Two or more dressy outfits for more formal work or social occasions
  • Belt(s)
  • Socks
  • Underwear & bras—cotton is preferable due to hot and humid conditions

Agriculture and Environment sectors

Agriculture and Environment Volunteers will spend a lot of time in the sun. We encourage you to bring sun protective items. Additionally, the following items are recommended:

  • Three or four bandanas
  • Waterproof shoes/work boots for the field
  • Heavy duty gardening gloves

Health and Community Economic Development sectors

Health and CED Volunteers interact more frequently with local authorities/officials. Consider bringing:

  • Sport jacket/blazer
  • An extra outfit for meeting officials

Leisure and recreational clothing

  • Shorts (baggy and below knee)/capri pants for exercise
  • Lightweight/sweat-wicking shirt for exercise
  • Sports bra
  • Light weight jeans/khakis
  • Bathing suit
  • Rain jacket/poncho
  • Hats or caps for sun protection
  • Sunglasses
  • One pair of sturdy sandals
  • One pair of trail/running shoes
  • One pair of dress shoes

You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.

Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.

See a detailed list of items included in the medical kit.

The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

See additional guidance from the Office of Medical Services.

Other items that Volunteers in Senegal find helpful include:

  • Quick-dry towels
  • Specialized hair or skin products
  • Hair ties or elastics
  • Nail clippers
  • Menstrual cup/keeper

Please note that contact lenses are not recommended in Senegal due to elevated rates of eye infections and contact solution is hard to find.

Senegal uses 220 volt and round-2- pronged plugs. Electronics are generally more expensive in Senegal than in the US but plug adaptors are locally available and inexpensive, voltage converters are generally not available, and if available are low quality and expensive. Many Peace Corps Volunteers bring laptops or tablets and have found them helpful. But expensive, high-end equipment is not recommended. Senegal’s dust, heat, and humidity are hard on electronics. The Wi-Fi connection at the training center is variable and may be slow at times. You will be given a simple smart cell phone for your use as a Peace Corps Volunteer. For Volunteers who need a computer a simple laptop/tablet will be provided from local vendors as part of the settling-in allowance at the end of training. Every invitee is encouraged to purchase a USB Flash Memory Drive prior to departing the US. This will enable you to readily move your personal files between computers during service.

You are responsible for preventing your electrical devices from being damaged or stolen, even while in Peace Corps facilities. You are strongly encouraged to purchase personal insurance to protect your valuables/electronics in the event of theft, damage, or loss.

Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. Below is a description of the common things different Volunteers have said they enjoy having that might be more difficult to find in-country. These items are not required or even recommended, but they might be nice to have.

  • Sturdy water bottle(s) or unbreakable thermos to carry clean water
  • Fanny pack or money belt
  • Your favorite recipes
  • Books
  • Musical instrument (if you play one and can tolerate possible damage to it from the climate)
  • Games (e.g., Frisbee, Scrabble, playing cards)
  • Sports equipment (e.g., football, softball and mitt, tennis racket)
  • Solar battery charger and/or cell phone charger
  • Knitting supplies and patterns
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Utility knife and small whetstone
  • Light sleeping bag
  • Daypack or sports bag
  • Pictures of your family and friends to share with Senegalese friends